Sumita Vaid

...and WagonR goes to Contract

Maruti has appointed Contract Advertising to handle the Rs 7-8 crore advertising account of WagonR

Maruti has appointed Contract Advertising to handle the Rs 7-8 crore advertising account of WagonR. Yet again, company and agency officials refused to confirm this development. But sources close to the event verified this information.

Contract would indeed be in a celebrative mood. Cars are not only hot business; they are interesting advertising propositions as well. WagonR, the ‘original' tall boy was launched in India in December 1999. To tide over the initial teething troubles - fuzzy brand image, low sales etc - Maruti awarded the WagonR account, which was estimated at Rs 4 crore then, to Saatchi & Saatchi in July 2000. The task for Saatchi & Saatchi was to ‘create a clear brand image and positioning in the consumer mind'. The last work from Saatchi & Saatchi before it gave up the business was the memorable ‘Feel At Home' campaign. The agency resigned the WagonR business on picking up rival Hyundai's Santro in August.

Post the latest bout of realignment, the agency combination stands like this. Lowe will continue to handle Alto, Baleno, Esteem, Omni and Versa; Hakuhodo Percept takes on Maruti 800 and Zen; and Capital Advertising will handle the True Value (automobile finance) account as well as the corporate advertising and N2N (fleet management service) businesses. The AOR for press is Initiative Media, while Madison Media will continue to handle media buying on television.

On its part, Maruti is planning to get more aggressive with WagonR. Which was what the brief asked for: ‘How to inject some excitement in the WagonR'. Interestingly, WagonR posted quite a strong performance last fiscal. Its sales grew by 31.2 per cent (that is, the number of WagonRs sold in 2001-2002 was 25,167 compared to 19,180 in the year 2000-2001). In fact, the brand has done well despite low-key advertising.

And now it's up to Contract to put in that bit of magic to give WagonR's rivals a run for their monies. © 2002 agencyfaqs!